Sudanese hard-liners meet under Arab Spring pressure

Updated 16 November 2012
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Sudanese hard-liners meet under Arab Spring pressure

KHARTOUM: Thousands of government-linked hard-liners met in Sudan yesterday, under pressure from Arab Spring-inspired reformers who say the Islamic setup has drifted from its religious foundations.
Reformers say corruption and other problems have left the vast African nation’s government Islamic in name only, and question how much longer President Omar Bashir should remain in office.
But those calling for change lack the power to impose their views, and their hopes for the three-day meeting will be dashed, predicted Khalid Tigani, an analyst and chief editor of the weekly economic newspaper Elaff.
“So this may lead to a new split” in the Islamic Movement.
Sudan’s hard-liners divided more than a decade ago when Hassan Al-Turabi, a key figure behind the 1989 coup, broke with Bashir and formed the Popular Congress opposition party.
The Islamic Movement, a social group at the heart of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), is holding its first national conference since uprisings and civil war began driving out authoritarian leaders around the region in 2011.
More than 170 foreign hard-liners have joined 5,000 local delegates, many wearing traditional white jalabiya robes and turbans, for the conference which opened with prayer.
While hard-liners gained power through democratic elections in Egypt and Tunisia after the Arab Spring uprisings, a coup 23 years ago installed Sudan’s hard-line regime — and it is still there.
Among the great challenges facing the country’s Islamic Movement “is how to restore the confidence in the new generation,” an editorial in the English-language The Citizen said yesterday.
“The movement has to unify itself by all means,” the paper said, calling for adherence to “Islamic values” and a fight against corruption, nepotism, tribalism and other ills which, critics say, are products of the current government.
It is a “corrupt dictatorship, cruel dictatorship,” said Turabi, who does not want Bashir’s regime associated with Islam.
Amin Hassan Omer, from the Islamic Movement’s ruling secretariat, said he expects such comments from critics but it is “nonsense” to suggest there is widespread dissatisfaction among younger hard-liners over corruption.
Omer said reformers would be disappointed despite “a general sense of urgency for change” in the Islamic Movement, including the need for a younger leadership.
One possible candidate to head the movement is Ghazi Salaheddine, a former presidential adviser. Writing in Al-Sudani newspaper ahead of the meeting, Salaheddine said the Islamic Movement should be independent of the government.
While only about 12 percent of NCP members come from the Islamic Movement, most of the party leadership belongs to the movement, said Omer, a state minister in the presidency. The Islamic Movement is simply a tool used by those in power to continue controlling the government “in the name of Islam,” said Tigani.
Tigani sees potential candidates to replace Bashir jostling for influence within the movement.


Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

Updated 23 May 2018
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Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

  • Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week
  • The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has picked prominent ministers to run for parliament next month, strengthening the ruling AK Party’s chances of winning a majority but putting their future role in government into question, party officials say.
Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week by the party to run for parliament in the June 24 poll, where the Islamist-rooted AK Party faces a stiff challenge from an opposition alliance.
While boosting the list of candidates, the move could affect the shape of the future cabinet because lawmakers will not be able to hold ministerial posts under the new presidential system, unless they resign their seats.
The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force, but recent opinion polls have suggested it could struggle to win an absolute majority, even with the support of its nationalist MHP ally.
The latest fall in the lira, which has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, could also work against Erdogan if voters fear the government is pushing prices and the cost of living higher.
Erdogan is still widely expected to win the presidential election to be held the same day. While the presidency will take on greater executive authority afterwards, an opposition-controlled parliament could vote down legislation.
“Erdogan wants to win a parliamentary majority in this critical election with a strong list,” said one AK Party member running for parliament.
A survey by MAK pollsters, viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party, showed on Wednesday that the parliamentary race is absolutely balanced, with the AK Party together with the MHP winning exactly 50.0 percent. In the presidential vote, it saw Erdogan winning 51.4 percent.

MINISTERIAL CHANGES
The move to throw high profile ministers into the parliamentary race could have a major impact on the composition of next cabinet.
“Under normal circumstances, those who are in the (parliamentary) list will not be appointed ministers,” a senior AK Party official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal was not named as a parliamentary candidate, and three sources said he was expected to remain in the post-election cabinet.
However, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is expected to leave the cabinet and run for a mayoral office, the sources said, while the future of Mehmet Simsek, deputy prime minister with responsibility for the economy, was undecided.
Investors have been watching closely for signals about Simsek’s role. As a former investment banker in New York and London, he is seen as one of the most investor-friendly members of a government at odds with economic orthodoxy.
The Turkish lira, already one of the weakest emerging market currencies this year, has lost another 13 percent against the dollar since Erdogan said in London last week that he planned to take greater control of the economy and that the central bank would not be able to ignore signals from the new executive presidency.
“Erdogan will make the last call on Simsek. Although Simsek’s policies are sometimes criticized, everyone knows that it’s hard to replace him,” an AK Party official said.
Simsek congratulated those on the party’s parliamentary list on Tuesday, adding in a tweet: “Onwards, no stopping.”
Officials say economic management is expected to be overseen by one of five vice presidents in a cabinet made up of 14 ministers — down from the current 21.
The changes have not yet been finalized, however, and may not be completed before the election, one of the AK Party officials said.